Wearable Tech World Feature Article
September 16, 2015

Juniper Research: Nearly 30 Million Virtual Reality Headsets to be Shipped in 2020

Skeptics of the upcoming market for virtual reality (VR) have every reason to be doubtful, at least in the short term. There's not much in the way of product currently available that doesn't require a smartphone to be inserted into the device, and most of the frontrunners are either still promising ship dates of 2016 or showing it off in the midst of trade shows. But many of the big names are looking to launch in the short term, and that's led Juniper Research to put out a study saying that VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) are likely to approach 30 million units shipped just by 2020.

Image via Shutterstock

Basically, Juniper Research's new study—titled “Virtual Reality: Market Dynamics & Future Prospects 2015-2020”—suggests that 2016 is going to be the big break-in point for virtual reality systems. Several major product launches are set for that year, including both the Oculus Rift and the Sony PlayStation VR, formerly Project Morpheus. The HTC Vive is also set to emerge in 2016, and that's going to mean some huge potential user numbers. Indeed, Juniper Research's numbers suggest that, in 2016 alone, there would be just over three million units shipped, with numbers increasing to 10 times that just four years later. Juniper also projects that hardware retail revenue will clear $4 billion in 2020.

Naturally, there will be challenges to such a market, including how the new hardware works with older hardware, as well as with other developments in the field like a controller sufficient to handle the experience, as well as a stereophonic headset. Interestingly, Juniper looks for the Far East and China market to be a major source of demand for this new technology.

Joe Crabtree, one of the report's authors, offered up some comment around the research, saying “The recent attention to and investment into virtual reality is helping to revitalize the industry and with major brand commercial launches imminent, there is huge potential for rapid market expansion.”

Indeed, there is; there will likely be plenty of early adopters ready to go, spurred on by a spate of Let's Play videos showing off virtual reality and just how far it's come since the old days of playing “Dactyl Nightmare” for five bucks a clip. Though there will also be plenty more interested in taking a wait-and-see approach to ensure all the bugs have been worked out of the system—how it works with people who wear prescription glasses, issues of nausea and so on—and that's actually good news for the market, as it helps ensure that there will be continued demand, not just a quick flash-in-the-pan followed by nothing. Plus, by the time the later adopters come into the market, the early adopters will start looking for upgrades, so if the first generation is done well, the market should prove self-sustaining.

Juniper Research's newest study looks like it's forecast the VR market for success. There's plenty of room for advancement here—word is the first VR movies are being developed—and already, the enterprise market is starting to consider VR seriously as a training tool and beyond. The next few years could be big for VR, and we may be starting to see it now.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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